Biff Sock Pow

Finding the humor in everyday life.

Archive for the tag “Canon T6”

Boring Backyard Photography: Morning Glory

Here are some photos of a Morning Glory vine that has taken up residence on a rose trellis beside my house.  It has nearly choked out the rose bush that is growing there.  There is a single yellow rose growing near the ground that is nearly obliterated by the Morning Glory.

Morning Glory #1Image ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Morning Glory #2.jpgImage ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Morning Glory #3.jpgImage ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

I love how Morning Glory looks, but it redefines the phrase “invasive species”.  No one plants it.  It just appears.  It suckers you in with its pretty purple flowers.   You see it growing and think, “Well, that’s pretty.  I think I’ll let it stay.”  The next thing you know, your entire yard is covered in Morning Glory.  The plant you see in the photos above appeared and grew to the size you see in about 2 weeks.  I have seen it growing in cracks in the concrete of major freeways.

Anyway, here are a couple of photos I took of it before I try to remove it to find the yellow rose (of Texas?) beneath it.  And when I find it, I plan on saying, “Dr. Livingston, I presume?”  No one will laugh but me, but I’m sure the rose will be grateful.

Meanwhile, the Morning Glory will say, “Curse you, Biff!  You may have won this time, but I will be back!

And it will, too.

 

Camera:  Canon T6

 

Garden Spider

I found this black and yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia) literally hanging out in my crepe myrtle tree this morning.

Garden Spider

I was finally able to get a good picture of her with the macro setting on my camera and by manually focusing.  The auto-focus simply did not see her and kept focusing on the branch behind her.  I perhaps rely too much on auto-focus due to my less than perfect eyesight.

The photo is misleading and makes her look huge.  However, she is quite small.  I think the tips of her legs would just barely touch the edge of a dime if spread out like the spokes of a wheel.

I hope she has a good long life and grows to be 2 inches or more across.  These spiders are highly desirable in gardens because they eat lots of pesky insects.  Plus they look really cool!

 

Scenes From Downtown Dallas

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent several hours Friday in downtown Dallas visiting the Dallas Museum of Art.  After visiting the museum, we walked the short walk to Klyde Warren Park.  The picture below is a view from the outside of the DMA looking towards KWP.

01 KWP from DMA.JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Klyde Warren Park is very unique in that it is built on 5.2 acres of “land” that was created over a freeway.  The Woodall Rodgers Freeway (aka Spur 366) has always run through a concrete valley carved out of Dallas between I-35 on the west side of Dallas and highway 75 on the east side.  They recently put a top over a portion of this sunken freeway and built a park on it.

Here is a picture taken from the edge of the park facing East.  You can make out traffic on the freeway in the center of the picture.

03 KWP and Woodall Rogers.JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Below is a zoom on the above picture to show the traffic more clearly driving under the park.

03a KWP and Woodall RogersImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

This was my first visit to the park and I was really impressed.  They did a very good job of this.  Throughout the decades I’ve lived near Dallas, the downtown area did not have much in it to attract visitors at nights and on weekends.  It was a joke here that they rolled up the sidewalks at five o’clock.  Except it wasn’t much of a joke.  Downtown Dallas was built for business and commerce, and outside of business hours it was largely deserted.

However, within the past five or ten years Dallas has made a concerted effort to attract visitors and residents to downtown Dallas.  They built a lot of condominiums, both traditional, and high-rise ones such as Museum Tower, shown in the next few pictures.

04 Museum Tower (Condos).JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

In the photo below, it’s hard to believe that there are about 8 lanes of freeway traffic about 20 feet below!

05 Museum Tower from Klyde Warren Park.JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

06 Museum Tower (Condos).JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

07 Museum Tower (Condos).JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

In addition to these new high-rise condominiums, there are a plethora of other beautiful office buildings.

08 IMG_0320.JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Below is the Hunt Oil Building.

09 Hunt Oil Building.JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Back at Klyde Warren Park, we decided to eat at food truck alley.

02 KWP Food Truck Alley.JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

About 12 food trucks were lined up along the park offering anything from ice cream to barbecue to lobster.  I chose a nice chicken quesadilla with a spicy avocado drizzle on it.  It was very tasty!  Unfortunately, the weather was not very spring-like but instead was 99 degrees in the shade with the humidity nearly 80%.  It was quite steamy!   It was still a nice visit to the park, though.  I’m sure I’ll be going back soon!  (Probably in the autumn.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Squirrel!

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I was in my back yard yesterday evening and noticed this squirrel on the fence.  He was kind enough to wait on the fence until I went back inside and got my camera.  I was about 20 feet away from him and was using my 300mm lens, so was able to get a closeup of him.

Notice his aggressive stance.  He held that position for a good 3 minutes.  I believe he would have jumped on me if I’d gotten any closer.  The squirrels around here are quite bold and will stand up on their hind quarters at you as if to say, “Come at me, Bro.”

I have a love-hate relationship with the neighborhood squirrels.  I love them when they are outside doing squirrel things.  But if they ever get into my attic, it is war.  They have learned that the neighbors’ attics are much more hospitable places than mine.  The Great Squirrel War of 2014 has entered local Squirrel lore and legend and so I haven’t had any problem out of them in years.   (Lest you think I behaved poorly towards the squirrels, I merely had all of the wood soffits on my house replaced with concrete-impregnated Hardieboard.)

So, since this little fellow is outside, he is a good squirrel and the recipient of my benevolent bonhomie.

Thistle Do Nicely

Here are a few more pictures of my photo expedition to the tiny wildlife sanctuary.

Today’s topic is Texas Thistle.  I have always loved how Texas Thistle looks in the springtime.  From a distance, it has a gorgeous bloom and it sends these pink puff balls towering up above everything around it.

Here is what a patch of Texas Thistle looks like from a bit of a distance.

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Image © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

And here is one of the puff balls that the Thistle sends up into the heavens to attract bees.  (Bee sold separately.)

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Image © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Beautiful, isn’t it?

But the thing to remember about Texas Thistle is that every part of it except the puff ball is prickly.  And not just a little bit.  I mean tear-through-your-jeans prickly.  Buds … stalks … leaves … everything about it will hurt you.  Here’s a close-up.

 

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Image © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Even the buds look a little daunting.  It’s hard to believe these turn into the pretty puff balls.

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Image © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

But the most insidious part of this plant is when it is just a fledgling and just starting its life.  In its larval stage, it consists of a starburst of leaves that are almost perfectly flat against the ground.

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Image © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

They are green, so they blend in well with grass.  Stepping on one of these in your bare feet or sock feet will introduce you to a new level of pain you didn’t know existed.  We used to call these “Devil’s Tongues” when I was a youngster, and they flat cured me of ever going anywhere outside barefoot.  I have not been barefoot outside since I was in the second grade just because of the memory I have of stepping on them.

So there you have it:  Texas Thistle, ladies and gentlemen.

I think these should be featured on the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag instead of the snake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bee On a Firewheel

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Image © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Here’s a busy little bee going to town on a Firewheel wildflower.  I used the macro setting on my Trusty Canon T6.  The lens was about 6 or 8 inches away from the industrious bee as she was busy pollinating like all get-out.

It wasn’t until after my photo excursion that I realized these could very well have been Africanized bees.  Lucky for me, they weren’t.  I was very happy to see that the honey bees were in abundance at the tiny wildlife preserve where I took this picture.  They  were almost literally swarming around the patches of Texas Thistle, Firewheel, Bastard Cabbage, etc.  It was a good day to be a bee.  And a good day to be a photographer.

I left the colors, saturation, contrast, etc. alone.  It’s beautiful just as it is.

 

 

Rambles Through the Brambles

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Image © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Here is a picture I took with my trusty Canon Rebel T6 while out taking a ramble through a tiny wildlife sanctuary in one of the surrounding suburbs.  It just goes to show that there is beauty even in a dauntless stalk of prairie grass that has somehow risen above the chaotic melee of Texas brambles and has raised its arms to the heavens as if to say, “Here I am!  Do your worst!”.

I juiced up the saturation a bit to bring out the colors, but not much.  I love the cinnamon colored seed pods against the blue of the Texas sky.

The yellow flowers speckling the background are, I believe, Bastard Cabbage.  Even though I dearly love that name, it is an invasive species.  In fact, I believe most of the plants in this shot are invasive species.

I’m not sure about that lone red flower.  It looks like a Drummond Phlox, but that seems highly unlikely.  More likely it is a Firewheel or a Trumpet Creeper.  Whatever it is, it seems a little out of place.

 

Ants In My Plants

Out of extreme boredom, I took my new Canon T6 out into the backyard to try and find something interesting to photograph.  Unfortunately, I have the most boring back yard in the entire western hemisphere.   Here is all I found.  I found a branch that had been broken off of a tree and when I peered into it I saw half a dozen carpenter ants busily and diligently doing …. something.  Whatever it was, they were giving it their all.  Good job, little troopers!  Keep on doing … whatever … it is …that you’re doing.

This first photo is just for perspective.   The lens was about 1.5 to 2 feet away from the end of the branch.  You can barely make out the ants.

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This next photo is the exact same photo as above, but I cropped it and zoomed way in using some freeware photo editing tool.  Now you can see the ants doing their thing.

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Sorry my back yard is so boring.  I’ll go further afield next time.

 

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